Career Clinic

25th November 2011 at 00:00
This week, Professor John Howson answers questions about which sector to select and likely interview topics

Which road to take?

I have a primary education degree with qualified teacher status. Are there any other sectors or career paths I could consider? I have often thought about education in museums and similar institutions, but is there much demand for qualified teachers? And how would I go about exploring these avenues?

Almost all types of work are much sought after at present, and although there are posts in the education services of museums and other historical attractions you may need teaching experience to get them. However, in some cases the salary offered might be below the basic pay for a teacher. In this situation, there might be fewer takers among the ranks of qualified teachers. But there are many like you who are interested in such a career and may be prepared to take a low starting salary in order to get a foot in the door.

If you have volunteered in a museum or on a relevant project it might help your application. Specific knowledge or interest in an aspect of the service provided will also be useful as it will help convey enthusiasm in your application and at interview.

More generally, many employers do not understand the transferable skills a teacher has: planning, time-management, assessment, negotiating skills, decision-making in rapidly changing environments - I could go on. I guess it depends on how you sell the skills you have, but for any job working with people you have more of the skills needed than someone with just a subject degree.

If you have recently completed your degree, regard yourself as no different to any other graduate applying for a range of careers, but with the advantage that you have completed structured work placements that many graduates have not had the chance to experience. But sell it as work experience, not just teaching experience.


I am looking for ideas and suggestions for things to bring up during a meeting about the role of key stage 2 co-ordinator. The position has opened up in my school and I am considering applying, but I am unsure what I may be asked during the interview.

Is this a formal interview or some sort of briefing meeting for staff interested in the post? Will the job just be advertised internally, or are the governors going through a full external recruitment exercise?

The place to start is the job description. Even if the post is only advertised internally, there should still be both a job description and a person specification. Otherwise, if appointed, you risk walking into a job where the limits are undefined.

You can also look at similar job descriptions from other schools, which will provide some idea of how they see the role of KS2 co-ordinator. The post will no doubt involve matters that are common to the key stage across all schools, plus those specific to your school.

Leadership, at whatever level, involves:

- the situation - in this case, what is required at KS2 to achieve results for pupils;

- the strategy - how to move the key stage forward to achieve greater success;

- the resources - these include people, places and physical resources, and how to make effective use of them;

- the pupils and their parents, and how to deal with the issues that arise in dealing with them on a day-to-day basis.

On top of all of this, there is your own leadership style and what experience you have of leading a team. An interview can range across all or some of these areas, as well as probing your knowledge of teaching and learning strategies.

Professor John Howson is our resident career expert, with 40 years in education, including spells as a teacher, academic, school recruitment researcher and government adviser.

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